ATSE Talk: Water Security for Australians Demands Renewed Efforts in Water Reform

It is abundantly clear that water policy reform has stopped in Australia. Governments appear to be asleep at the wheel while we face major emerging issues that will determine how well we manage our scarce water resources into the future. Water security is critical to all of life and having a modern progressive policy platform that manages it with economic efficiency and with resilience against the shocks of droughts, floods under changing climate is a cardinal foundation for us all. Changing climate will have a major impact on both availability of water and the demand for water across Australia. Climate change needs to be brought to the forefront of water planning and water use decisions so that water users, governments and investors can make long-term informed decisions on investments and adaptation options. The mining and petroleum industries, carbon sequestration methods and all energy generators must sit within new national water reforms so that water is consistently managed across all sectors. The nexus or interplay of food, water, energy and the environment are clearly emerging issues that need to be addressed in their entirety by progressive policy reform.

Adjunct Professor, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Dr Williams is a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, a Fellow and Chair of the Academy’s Water Forum. He has won the prestigious Farrer Memorial Medal for achievement and excellence in agricultural science.

He is one of Australia’s most respected and trusted scientists, with extensive experience in providing national and international thought-leadership in land and water management, particularly in agricultural production and its impact on land and water ecosystems.

He was CSIRO’s Chief of the Division of Land and Water when he retired in 2004. He also served as Adjunct Professor in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management at Charles Sturt University and Chief Scientist and Chair of the NSW Department of Natural Resources’ Science and Information Board. He was a Commissioner of the NSW Natural Resources Commission between 2005 and 2011. He is an emeritus professor and research associate at the Australian National University and a prominent commentator on environmental matters.